“Padres Pitching….Promise & Problems”
48-hours from opening day, and the good ship Padres pitching staff is taking on water, and listing on the eve of the start of the 162-game schedule.
The 5-man starting rotation, whom we thought would make San Diego the team to chase down the Dodgers in the fight for first place, is not what we hoped it would be.
We know the talents of Blake Snell and Yu Darvish, both dominant in the Cactus League. We see flashes of strengths from Joe Musgrove.
We think Adrian Morejon has shown enough to be trustworthy as the fourth guy in the rotation.
But now there have to be concerns.
Dinelson Lamet is a month away from joining the rotation, and there is a great unknown how his forearm and elbow will hold up as they try to build his arm strength and inning totals.Lamet has pitched 2-innings, given up 2-runs, 3-hits, 2-home runs in his brief two outings. There will be no fast-track program with him. As dominant as he was last year with that (2.09-ERA) they cannot afford any type of setback now in extended spring training. Lamet has a (7.17-ERA) this spring. Health and patience will be critical.
The bigger concern is what has happened to Chris Paddack and his once-electric array of pitches. He can’t control them, he can’t find the strike zone, he get people out, he cannot keep the hitters off bases, nor the ball in the park.
More alarming is what Paddack is doing now, getting battered, is the same that happened to him last summer, as he regressed further from his dominant 2019-rookie season.
Paddack had that impressive (3.33-ERA) as a rookie, fueled by a crackling fastball, ball movement, painting the corners and dominating. That was more than a year ago. Since then, Paddack has lost his location, people are sitting on his fastball, because he’s not throwing strikes consistently..
As the Padres head home for Thursday’s lidlifer, Paddack drags with him an (10.64ERA) this spring. Monday’s outing was horrific, maybe the worst outing Paddack has had in the major leagues. He had a 32-pitch inning that was halted. He came back for a second inning, and it got worse The final tally showed (2.1inn-7H-8R-2W-HB-3RHR).
In Paddack’s last 6-innings this spring, he gave up 11-runs-14-hits and 4-home runs. You cannot say pitching shutout innings in a simulated game against four teammates means anything, when it is followed by this catastrophe against the lowly Rockies. In 11-exhibition innings he has given up 13-runs, allowed 23-baserunners and given up 3-homers. Thus the horrific spring ERA.
This is not a one off, because this skid happened last summer. After he fired a shutout against Arizona in his first start and a dominant second start against the Giants, Paddack has never been the same pitcher. He went (4-6) after the good start…and wound up with a bloated (4.73-ERA) in that sophomore season.
He had 4-quality starts out of his final 10-outings. Included were two batterings against the Cardinals and Dodgers in the postseason
Paddack has dominated against bad teams, Seattle-Giants-Arizona and the like. But last year against playoff teams, he got lit up…(16inn-21R-24H-5HRs).
In his brief career, the guy with the sizzling fastball, is giving up home run balls…a total of 15-home runs in 61-innings.
He looks lost. Talks tough. Gets lit up. Manager Jayce Tingler can no longer say ‘he’s working on things in the spring’. Spring is gone. Pitching coach Larry Rothchild needs to figure out Paddack’s issues. Anyone got the cell phone number of longtime pitching coach Darren Balsley?
Is it his psyche? Is it his mechanics? Is it release points? Is it tipping off pitches? Have scouting reports caught up to him? Is it physical? Is it mental?
For the Padres, here comes 24-games in 25-days to start the season. And suddenly, there is reality, Lamet is nowhere near ready, and Paddack cannot be trusted to go out and pitch quality innings.
Yes Morejon goes into the rotation, and now they may have to send youngster Ryan Weathers out there, or rely on bullpen days, this early in the season. They’ve decided to start opening day with 14-arms including 9-out of the bullpen.
For all the talk about the Padres now being on a level playing field with the Dodgers, that conversation needs to be tabled. What needs to happen is to help Paddack solve his shortcomings, because they have become major.
The Friars are excited about a lineup filled with the bats of Tatis-Machado-Hosmer-Myers-Grisham and Pham, once everyone gets healthy.
Suddenly days before a season opener series, the promise of Padres pitching has been sidetracked by what appears to be Padres problems.
Not what you need opening day, not what we thought we’d see opening day.